Center for Nonprofit Excellence
LEAD Institute

LEAD Institute


LEAD (Leadership Education and Development) Institute is a year-long leadership development program for nonprofit managers aspiring to greater leadership. LEAD serves the diverse communities of Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties. Since it began in 2009, more than 180 leaders representing 120 nonprofits have completed the program.

LEAD Institute

2024 Institute

Invest in yourself and your community: LEAD is growing the next generation of nonprofit leadership!

Applications for LEAD 2024 are now closed.

Values & Commitments

LEAD Institute is committed to building an inclusive and equitable teaching community where LEADers identify core values, share resources, and cultivate a supportive network for leadership growth and mission impact. 

LEADers commit to ten intensive, day-long monthly seminars for leadership growth and reflection at the beautiful Harden Foundation in Salinas, and experience six months of individualized, one-on-one coaching with a professional coach. 


LEADers graduate from the program ready to take on greater leadership and thrive. LEAD can help you:

  • Identify your core values and connect with a diverse and inspiring peer network. 
  • Learn from experts in our community and explore topics related to power, collaboration, and justice. 
  • Develop nonprofit management skills and better understand how organizations function. 
  • Grow your mission impact and work for change. 

Ivan MezaPrior to being part of LEAD, I often struggled with my confidence as a leader. Through the support of my coach as well as my LEAD cohort, not only have I learned to collaborate with other nonprofits, but I have also learned to be more involved and confident in my job decision making as a leader. Ivan Meza, Avenues Program Coordinator, Community Connection

Why LEAD? –  for Your Organization

  • Make an organizational commitment to invest in your great staff and empower their growth. 
  • Meet new partners and build support networks. 
  • Build capacity in key areas including supervision, collaboration, fund development, financial management, and more. 

Rob RappLEAD has expanded our LEADer’s skill set and willingness to try new things which in turn has expanded her job scope further than we had initially imagined. – Rob Rapp, former Development Director, Community Human Services and LEAD Alum

Partners, Presenters and Coaches

The Community Foundation Santa Cruz County and the Community Foundation for San Benito County partner with the Community Foundation for Monterey County to ensure strong participation from all three counties.

Recent presenters with expertise in nonprofit management and leadership development have included LEAD Alumni Hana Kong and ileana Ortega Brunetti, Conflict Resolution Center of Santa Cruz, G. Luca Oake, Sharon Papo, Catherine Hambley, Steve Dennis, plus CNE staff Reid Norris and Susie Polnaszek.

Thank you to our 2023 LEAD coaches: Anne Auburn, Jennifer Britton, Tobi Marcus, Angela Lopez, Clare Mounteer, Arne Croce, Sorby Grant, Marie Earl, Christine Silver, Emma Pineda Fortin, Michelle Slade, Grace Hammond, Daniela Bryan, Robert Freiri, and Marisa Singer 


2024 LEAD Institute

LEAD 2023 Cohort

LEAD is an intensive learning experience, and support from your nonprofit or community-based organization and supervisors is essential. In community, LEADers develop knowledge, skills, confidence and readiness to make a strong contribution to mission impact and organizational success.

Key Coursework

LEADers explore:

  • Personal strengths and opportunities to grow
  • Values and vision clarity
  • Leadership lineage – on who’s shoulders are you standing?
  • Inclusive power
  • Peer coaching and feedback
  • Equity, justice and community resources

Additional topics include:

  • Strategy and goal setting: identifying and measuring what’s most important
  • Nonprofit financial management and fund development
  • Boards, governance and the unique aspects of nonprofit management
  • Effective communication
  • Accountability and addressing workplace issues
  • How to run a great team meeting
  • Strategies for effective delegation – identifying team members’ strengths

Coaching and Other Support for LEADers

  • 10 hours of individualized coaching
  • Dynamic networking across organizations and missions, plus Alumni Network
  • Peer coaching and peer assist with classmates
  • Online library of LEAD resources and materials
  • Encouragement and investment in LEADers’ success

If you lead a large staff or a small staff, if you are in a place in your career that you want to grow your organization, if you need coaching or just want to learn more about how to make your nonprofit the best it can be, you should apply to this program.” – Jennifer Suttie, 2022 LEAD Institute Alum

Seminar Dates & Time Commitment

LEADers commit to ten intensive, day-long, in-person monthly seminars at Harden Foundation in Salinas from February to December 2024. LEADers should expect to devote 2-3 additional hours each month for coaching, reflection, and self-directed preparatory work for LEAD.

LEAD 2024 Dates 

Attendance at seminars is essential. Successful completion of sessions and assignments by December 2024 and the ability to demonstrate integration of content areas in professional life and leadership qualify you for a LEAD Certificate of Completion.

February 9, 2024

March 8

April 12

May 10

June 14

July 12

August 9

September 13

October 11

November 8

December 13 Graduation


Apply to LEAD

Apply Online2024 LEAD applications are now closed. Check back in August 2024 for future opportunities.

We recommend you discuss your goals and the commitment required to attend LEAD with your direct supervisor and/or affiliated community organizations. Nonprofits based in Santa Cruz, Monterey or San Benito Counties are eligible. LEAD Institute will accept one applicant per organization. 

LEAD SupervisorI first decided to send an employee to LEAD because I noticed key leadership qualities: she’s smart, talented and has a strong work ethic. LEAD Institute is building on those qualities while developing new leadership skills that will benefit her and most importantly, the children and families served by Jacob’s Heart. A sound investment…now and in the future. Lori Butterworth, then-ED of Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Support Services

Application and Selection Criteria

Successful candidates demonstrate:

  • Integrity, critical thinking, and a commitment to life-long learning 
  • Interest in taking on greater leadership in the next 18 months 
  • Support from their organization or community group 
  • Experience supervising others or the desire to gain management skills 
  • Investment in community 

Tuition and Partial Scholarships

We are committed to working with all accepted applicants and their organizations to coordinate tuition funding.

Organization Budget Size LEAD Tuition
All-volunteer organizations $1,000
< $500,000 $1,500
$500-999,999 $1,800
$1M-$5M $2,100
>$5M $2,400

The Community Foundation for Monterey County understands the unique financial circumstances of each LEAD participant and nonprofit organization. We encourage all who could benefit from LEAD Institute to apply. Tuition is sliding-scale and need-based scholarships are available. LEAD Institute will accept one applicant per organization. 


LEAD Participants and Alumni

LEAD Institute is an opportunity to engage with a dynamic and inspiring network of alumni in Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz Counties. 

 Activities help alumni to stay connected, continue learning, and renew energy for leadership growth. 

 Recent alumni activities include: reunions by class, professional development and peer coaching. 

LEAD AlumThe new tools and support network of other leaders helps me feel consistently hopeful even through challenging times. – Mireya Gomez-Contreras, Arts Council of Santa Cruz County

2023 LEAD Institute participants

Monterey County

  • Elizabeth Jimenez, Rancho Cielo, Grants and Communications Manager
  • Genevieve Lucas-Conwell, Coalition of Homeless Services Providers, Executive Director
  • Gina Silva, Girl Scouts of California’s Central Coast, Director of Recruitment
  • Jacqueline Leon, Loaves, Fishes & Computers – LFC, Computer Literacy Instructor/Coordinator
  • Jaimee De Pompeo, The Parenting Connection of Monterey County, Program Director
  • Jesse Juarez, Youth Arts Collective, Executive Director
  • Jorge Torres, Community Partnership for Youth, Art/Media/Site Director
  • Lisa Rico, Natividad Foundation, Director of Development
  • Manuel Hernandez, Interim Inc., Assistant Program Director
  • Maria Magaña, Central Coast Center for Independent Living CCCIL, Community Organizer
  • Maria Perez-Zamora, CASA of Monterey County, Program Director
  • Melissa Mahoney, Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust, Executive Director
  • Mike Chamberlain, Ventana Wilderness Alliance, Executive Director
  • Priscilla Ortega, Community Homeless Solutions, DV Shelter Manager
  • Sheri Massolo, Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital Foundation, Development Services Manager
  • Stacie Andrews, The Village Project, Inc., Executive Director
  • Taylor Honrath, Elkhorn Slough Foundation, Deputy Director
  • Tessa Wise, Veterans Transition Center of California

San Benito and Santa Cruz County

  • Anthony Lopez, Youth Alliance, Associate Director of Expanded Learning
  • Brianna Flores, Pajaro Valley Arts, Office Manager

Monterey County Nonprofits & Alumni

  • 2nd Chance Family and Youth Services (Laura Tinajero)
  • Access Support Network (Daniela Mejia & Paris De La Rosa)
  • Ag Land Trust (Virginia Jameson)
  • ALBA (Andrea Tinajero)
  • Alliance on Aging (Jody Rogers)
  • Alisal Center for the Fine Arts (Javier Tamayo, Willow Aray & Juan Carlos Gonzalez)
  • ARIEL Theatrical (Samantha Barnes)
  • Arts Council for Monterey County (Berniz House, Erin Lyman)
  • Building Healthy Communities – East Salinas (Carmen Gil)
  • California Breastfeeding Coalition (Robbie Gonzalez-Dow)
  • Camp SEA Lab (Amity Wood)
  • The Carmel Foundation (Aimee Cuda, Kimberly Willison)
  • CASA of Monterey County (Teressa Jimenez)
  • Center for Community Advocacy (Natalie Herendeen)
  • Central Coast HIV/AIDS Services (Katie Murphy)
  • Central Coast YMCA: South County Branch (Leti Bocanegra)
  • CHISPA (Jonathan Bohorquez, Ruth Rodriguez)
  • CSUMB (Rene Casas)
  • Coalition of Homeless Services Providers (Jocelyn Brady)
  • Community Foundation for Monterey County (Aurelio Salazar, Jr.)
  • Community Human Services (Jennifer Hazen, Lenina Sanchez, Rob Rapp & Valerie Catania)
  • Community Partnership for Youth (Benjamin Bruce)
  • Door to Hope (Denise Felix, Patterson Emesibe)
  • Environmental Justice Coalition for Water (May Nguyen & Vicente Lara)
  • Everyone’s Harvest (Iris Diana Jehle-Peppard)
  • Family Connections – MPUSD/First 5 (Jan Phillips Paulsen)
  • First 5 Monterey County (David Dobrowski)
  • First Methodist Church in Salinas (Cindy Storrs)
  • Food Bank for Monterey County (Melissa Hartman)
  • Gateway Center (Amy Wright)
  • Goodwill Central Coast (Richard Cheatham)
  • Greenfield Community Science Workshop (José Sánchez)
  • Hartnell College Foundation (Priscilla Amao)
  • HOPE Services (Greg Dinsmore)
  • Housing Resource Center of Monterey County (Alexa Johnson, Jennifer Rego)
  • Independent Transportation Network Monterey County (Cheryl Tsuchiura)
  • INTERIM, INC (Victoria Jimenez, Sandra Peña, Idalia Matthews, Alejandro Amezcua, Carolina Cortez, Christina Barnes, Carmen Torres, Lara Stahl, Lisa Corpuz, Judith Gonzalez & Maritza Allen)
  • iResult, LLC (Niña Magsaysay Rosete)
  • Legal Services for Seniors (Philip M. Geiger)
  • The Literacy Campaign for Monterey County (M. Crystal Macias-Diaz)
  • Loaves Fishes & Computers, Inc. (Elizabeth Panetta)
  • Lyceum (Joyce Breckenridge)
  • Mandell Gisnet Center for Conflict Management (Isabel Bjork)
  • Meals on Wheels of the Salinas Valley, Inc. (Claudia Aguilera)
  • MEarth (Juliet Pool)
  • MILPA Collective (Elias Gonzales)
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium (Karin Stratton, Ava Ferguson & Ileana Ortega Brunetti, Jennifer Rigney)
  • Monterey County Office of Education (Jennifer Suttie; Head Start and Early Head Start Isabel Valtierra)
  • Monterey County Rape Crisis Center (Nicole Irigoyen, Nina Alcaraz)
  • Monterey Peninsula Foundation (Hana Kong)
  • Osio Theater (Tommy Pieper, Brandi Lamb)
  • Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History (Ann Wasser)
  • Parents’ Place, Pacific Grove Adult School, PGUSD (Elizabeth Olney)
  • Partnership for Children (Jennifer Ramirez)
  • Peacock Acres (Nathan Jones)
  • Point Lobos Foundation (Anna Patterson)
  • Rancho Cielo Youth Campus, Inc. (Cecilia Romero, Trish Alcocer)
  • The Read to Me Project (Kirstin van Gend)
  • Restorative Justice Partners, Inc. (Jennie Burciaga)
  • Return of the Natives Restoration and Education Project (Emily Howard)
  • The Salvation Army, Service Extension (Amelia Gomez)
  • Shelter Outreach Plus (Leticia Bejarano)
  • Sol Treasures (Jeff Hinderscheid)
  • Soledad Unified School District (Cristina Sotelo)
  • Special Kids Crusade (Laura Harris)
  • Sun Street Centers (Chris Graveline, John Bokanovich, Marciano Huerta & Eddie Hathcock)
  • Turning Point of Central California (Pearl Sanchez)
  • United Way Monterey County (Clare Margason, Kate Mitchell Mehle & Mayra Perez)
  • Volunteer Center (Gilda Estrada)
  • Youth Music Monterey County (Vanisha Evans Douvon)
  • Youth Orchestra Salinas (Michael Gomez)
  • YWCA Monterey County (Germaine Esquivel)

San Benito County Nonprofits & Alumni

  • BenitoLink (Laura Romero)
  • CASA of San Benito County (Esther Curtice)
  • Chamberlain’s Children Center, Inc. (Krystal Jones, Gracie Lucatero & Patrick Ellis)
  • Community Foundation for San Benito County (Salina Chacon and Raul Ceja)
  • Community Solutions (Vanessa Garcia)
  • Community Vision San Benito Co. (Colleen Johnson)
  • Emmaus House (Mary Lou Coffelt)
  • Live Like Geno Foundation (Tenille Ramirez)
  • Pinnacles Partnership (Rochelle Fischer)
  • San Benito County Farm Bureau (Mindy Sotelo)
  • United Way of San Benito (Vicki Fortino)
  • Youth Alliance (Rodrigo Jimenez, Zenedith Espinoza)

Santa Cruz County Nonprofits & Alumni

  • Arts Council Santa Cruz County (Megan Searcy & Nabil Ghachem)
  • Break Away College Access Project (Carol Schimke)
  • Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music (Jessica Frye)
  • Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County Inc. (Juan Luis Romero, Mireya Gomez-Contreras)
  • Community Restoration Project (Javier Diaz)
  • The Shelter Project (Norma Sanchez)
  • Community Alliance with Family Farmers (Kathryn Spencer)
  • Community Bridges
    • Beach Flats Community Center (Reyna Ruiz)
    • La Manzana Community Resources (­­­Gabriela López Chávez)
  • Creative Muse Collective (Terri Steinmann)
  • The Diversity Center for Santa Cruz County (Emilio Barajas)
  • Easter Seals Central California (Stephanie Flores & Stella Lauerman)
  • El Pajaro CDC (Amy Mascareñas)
  • Encompass Community Services (Maria Sanchez & Leigh Guerrero)
  • Habitat for Humanity Monterey Bay (Beth Bowman)
  • Health Improvement Partnership (Haley Mears)
  • Homeless Garden Project (Darrie Ganzhorn)
  • Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Support Services (Alexandra Dami)
  • Mesa Verde Gardens (Ana Rasmussen)
  • Monarch Services (Maria Barranco)
  • Museo Eduardo Carillo (Betsy Andersen)
  • Pajaro Valley Arts Council (Norma Villaron)
  • Pajaro Valley Prevention and Student Assistance, Inc. (Silvia Diaz)
  • Positive Discipline Community Resources (Stephanie Baron Lu)
  • Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County (Lea Haratani)
  • Salud Para La Gente (Laura Cuadros, Raphael Cendejas, Iliana Cuadros, Dail Vannerus, Michelle De Anda, Rosalba Contreras, Rachel Sandobal & Theresa Merendon)
  • Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History (Helen Aldana, Diana Kapsner)
  • Save Our Shores (Ginaia Kelly)
  • Tandy Beal & Company (Jennifer Radakovich)
  • Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County
    • Community Connection (Ivan Meza, Maribel Alvarez, Mark Vasquez, Jodie Wells, Salina Nevarez & Uriel Mendoza)
  • Watsonville Film Festival (Consuelo Alba-Speyer)
  • Watsonville Science Workshop (Darren Gertler)
  • The Watsonville Law Center (Adriana Melgoza, Monica Pereira & Henry Martin)
  • Watsonville Volunteer Center (Blanca Carrillo)
  • Watsonville Wetlands Watch (Jonathan Pilch)
  • Women’s Crisis Support – Defensa de Mujeres (Lucila Sanchez)
  • YWCA of Watsonville (Kimberly Garcia Contreras, Emelia Leon)